'Anything may happen in politics' - we got used to this remark and ADMK's O Panneerselvam has now become the latest testament for this familiar saying through his back-to-back political setbacks. Panneerselvam's journey in politics is similar to that of late ADMK leader Jayalalithaa. His nearly five-decade-old political career has taken a new and grim turn with the label of party's betrayer.
Once Jayalalithaa's man Friday with her choice to replace her as the Chief Minister during her incarcerations, Panneerselvam had been the next powerful leader in the ADMK after Jayalalithaa. Known for his loyalty, Jayalalithaa had rewarded him with top posts in the party and in her administration. Panneerselvam had served as the party's treasurer and Tamil Nadu's Finance Minister during Jayalalithaa's reign and in six years, his political fortress has turned upside down.
Panneerselvam has been gradually losing his grip on the party after Jayalalithaa's demise and his efforts from Dharmayutham to ban ADMK's General Council meeting have all gone in vain. His eroding base both on his home turf and at the party has been becoming evident suggesting that the prospect to lead the party has been dimmed. Notably, he has also lost some big wickets from his camp while most of the functionaries including the MPs, MLAs, and district secretaries are staunchly backing Edappadi Palaniswami.
After he directed a revolt at the beginning of 2017 to stop the elevation of Jayalalithaa's close aide VK Sasikala, he has merged his faction with Edappadi Palaniswami in late 2017 following which the duo had decided to expel VK Sasikala from the party and annul the post of General Secretary. They had created posts of Chief Coordinator, which was taken by Panneerselvam and Joint Coordinator, which was awarded to Palaniswami.
However, the merger has spurred a fresh leadership crisis about who is going to control the party in the future and now, five years later, the party is getting an answer that Edappadi Palaniswami will be the one who is going to lead the party as the General Secretary. While the top label will most likely go to Palaniswami, OPS has got the label of ADMK's betrayer. The rivalry between the EPS and OPS has taken a tumultuous turn after the apparent events of sidelining OPS.
On Thursday, ADMK has organized the General Council meeting after a legal setback for OPS on his efforts to ban the meeting. It was the first time that both EPS and OPS came together on the same stage but they remained tense throughout the meeting. In the wake of the EPS support wave, OPS didn't get a rousing welcome as most of the senior leaders turned blind when OPS greeted them. The meeting was occupied with Palaniswami's air with no breather for OPS.
Several leaders had joined the chorus for the unitary leadership in support of EPS and they indirectly voiced against OPS. Being annoyed by the ambience, OPS had staged a walkout along with his supporters and there was no one in the packed hall to convince OPS to be in the meeting. Ironically, when OPS was coming down off the stage, he was attacked by several cadres who threw water bottles at him. It has been reported that he got punched in the back.
His supporter Vaithilingam was in clamour on the stage and while he was trying to address the audience before descending, the microphone was turned off and while these events were taking place inside the hall, the supporters of EPS were raising slogans terming OPS as the betrayer and they further went on to shout at the driver to take OPS's vehicle out from the premises. The visuals have shown that the EPS supporters had asked the driver to clear OPS's vehicle from the venue ahead of the arrival of EPS.
It has also been alleged that one of the vehicles of the OPS motorcade was punctured by the EPS supporters. Reacting to these events, the political observers had said that OPS was insulted at the party and that he was thrown to a state where he can't able to park his own vehicle. The slogan of labelling OPS as the betrayer was high in a fashion that had exhibited the magnitude of friction against him in the party.
On the other hand, ADMK didn't pass any resolution at today's meeting and announced that the next round of the General Council meeting would be held on July 11. The supporters of OPS had reacted sharply against the events that happened at the meeting and said that the EPS camp didn't have the right to revoke all the 23 resolutions. By citing that EPS has gone to the extent of a dictatorship, the OPS faction has asserted that the July 11 meeting won't be held.